- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Republican Sen. Bob Corker said Wednesday he had signed the GOP’s budget resolution after spending the early part of the week as his party’s lone holdout, clearing the way for each chamber to approve the blueprint.

Mr. Corker, of Tennessee, had complained about “gimmicks” in the final conference report hammered out behind closed doors, and the standoff threatened to delay GOP plans to vote on the budget resolution this week as it takes up actual spending bills.

“There is no question this budget is far from perfect, but it is some progress since it has been a long time since the Congress has completed this basic part of governing,” Mr. Corker said. “I have had conversations on both sides of the Capitol laying out what I believe we need to do to prepare for next year’s budget process so that we can make much greater progress toward addressing the tremendous fiscal challenges our country faces.”

The Tennessee lawmaker said one reason he wavered on the deal is because it uses Changes in Mandatory Programs, or CHIMPS, which delay mandatory spending to free up money for other priorities. Critics say it is a phony maneuver that simply delays budgetary pain or results in no actual savings.

Aides said draft conference budget report would for the first time limit the use of CHIMPS in the appropriations process, aides said, capping their use at $19 billion in each of the first two years and then phasing them out.

House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers, Kentucky Republican, has said CHIMPS provide needed flexibility under tight budget caps, and eliminating them could derail the spending process.

A spokesman for Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, California Republican, said the House will vote on the budget resolution Friday, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said he wants to take up the resolution this week.

Mr. Corker downplayed suggestions his holdout status was related to his attempts to corral GOP senators in support of his bipartisan bill to review an emerging nuclear deal with Iran, without saddling it with too many amendments. Late Tuesday, Mr. Corker said his bill had enough sponsors to override a presidential veto.

Democrats, meanwhile, are deeply unimpressed with the budget deal, saying it harms the middle class and uses gimmicks to boost defense spending without adding funds for domestic programs.

President Obama has threaded to veto the two appropriations bill that have made it out of committee and will hit the House floor Wednesday, saying he wants to lift the so-called sequester caps the parties agreed to in 2011.

“The Republican budget isn’t worth the paper it’s written on. It’s gonna go nowhere,” Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat, said.

• Tom Howell Jr. can be reached at thowell@washingtontimes.com.

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